Hood River will become a little different starting this week.
The long-awaited runway shift project at Ken Jernstedt Airfield gets under way this week, with the runway shifting 550 feet to the east.
That shift will cause a section of Orchard Road to be permanently closed.
K&B Construction of Salem will begin mobilizing at the east end of the airport this week in preparation for the construction.
If you want to take one last trip across a fully linked Orchard Road, now would be the time to do it, because on Sept. 13, a 500-foot section will be permanently closed and the removal of the road will begin.
K&B will begin installing hammerhead turnarounds on either side of the vacated section as the road is closed.
Drivers will not be the only ones needing to be aware of changes.
Beginning Sept. 10 the runway will be temporarily shortened to approximately 2,500 feet during the construction on the east end of the runway.
Site prep will continue for the runway shift project for the next month before construction and paving begins around Oct. 10.
“There will probably be some planes that won’t be able to use it but pretty much everything that is stationed out there will be (able to),” Port Development Manager Steve Burdick said of the impact the work will have on pilots.
In addition to temporarily shortening the runway, the construction will also mean that the runway’s landing lights, which are usually lit at night, will now only be illuminated during daylight hours.
Burdick said that pilots should be seeing a NOTAM — notice to airmen — from the FAA which would advise them of the change.
He added that new runway indication lights will be added as part of the project, but not until work is completed in the spring.
In addition to the lights, the full runway may not have pavement marking if cold weather does not allow completion before the winter construction shutdown.
The runway paving should be done by the end of October, but the Port advises that while the shifted portion of the runway will appear finished at that point, it will not in fact be completed and cannot be used.
The existing runway will receive a 3-inch overlay in the spring.
According to the Port, until the overlay is finished, the difference in grade between the existing and shifted portions of the runway would make the new portion unsafe for takeoff or landing.
However, a temporary grade transition will be put in place during the winter construction shutdown in the event of emergency landings or overruns.
The current runway will not be closed during the fall construction on the runway extension, but the overlay work on the existing portion of the runway in the spring will require several closures in the spring.
According the port the time and dates of the closures have not been determined, and they will likely depend on how much work is completed during the fall, and what the weather is like in the spring.
While the shifted portion of the runway is being built, the north taxiway will be reconstructed. Taxiway paving should be completed by the end of October, but it will not be open until other work is completed in the spring.
In a separate project to the runway shift, a contractor for the Oregon Department of Aviation will be doing crack sealing on the north and south tie-down areas, the west end of the runway and the area around the hangers on the south side of the airport according to the Port.
“It’s important that work gets done this year, because once the runway shift project gets done the west end of runway is essentially abandoned except as safety zone. FAA will no longer fund crack sealing on it,” Burdick said.
Pilots may move their planes out of the way of the crack-sealing project, or Classic Wings, the fixed-base operator for the airport, will move the planes out of the way.
Burdick said pilots should contact Classic Wings if they wish to move their own aircraft. Classic Wings may be reached at 541-386-1133.
Burdick said the crack-sealing project may also lead to brief runway closures as sealing is applied to the west end of the runway, but that closure has not been scheduled yet.
As the project gets under way, anyone with questions about any aspect of the project should contact Burdick for more information. He may be reached at 541-386-5116.